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Adapting to Serve

Two new divisions — one dedicated to more efficient and renewable energy technologies; the other to more affordable and rapid aerospace system sustainment — are among several significant changes made during the University of Dayton Research Institute's organizational restructure, which took effect July 1.

The reorganization was mapped in response to several years of record-breaking growth in research volume and to prepare for continued growth in employee population and diversity in research fields. UDRI, which performs about 90 percent of sponsored research at the University of Dayton, saw an unprecedented 60 percent revenue growth during the last four years, and more than half of its current 570 employees were hired within the same time frame.

"We've maintained our success by being quick to adapt to the evolving needs of our customers, as well as by identifying emerging trends in research and technology development,' said UDRI Director Allan Crasto. "This reorganization will better prepare us to stay agile and expand our capabilities in new as well as in legacy research areas."

Among the changes, a new Power and Energy Division will help the Institute respond to the rising global demand for more efficient and renewable energy technologies. In the new Sustainment Technologies Transition Division, researchers are using additive manufacturing, cold spray and other emerging technologies to support military customers in the pursuit of safe, affordable solutions to aging systems sustainment and help commercial manufacturers modernize tooling and production processes.

Another new division, Applied Sensing, spun out of UDRI's Sensor and Software Systems Division. Sensors research at UDRI began only a dozen years ago with a handful of researchers and state of Ohio funding, and has since become one of the fastest growing capabilities within the Institute. Between the two divisions, researchers are working to advance software and sensor systems and transition them to the field.

The remaining divisions — most with new names — are Applied Mechanics for air and ground vehicle development and support, Fuels and Combustion for improved and cleaner burning fuels and combustion processes, and Structural Materials and Nonstructural Materials for the design, development, testing and analysis of a vast array of materials and structures.

Materials research — a legacy field for the 63-year-old Research Institute — has propelled the University of Dayton to first place among all colleges and universities in the nation for federally funded materials research, according to the most recent higher education research and development statistics published by the National Science Foundation.

In addition to creating new and renaming existing divisions, the reorganization involved realigning some researchers and research groups to bring together those with similar pockets of expertise and eliminate redundancy across the Institute.

"But we did so without eliminating a single position, fulfilling a promise we made to our employees at the outset of mapping the new structure," Crasto said. "Instead, we merged groups whose members can now tap into a broader pool of expertise, enabling them to pursue larger and more diverse programs."

Crasto said UDRI will continue to step up its work in technology transition, another of the organization's keys to success. "It's not enough anymore to develop or integrate new technologies for customers if they aren’t then prepared to put them into practical application. So we work as a team with our Air Force and other partners to demonstrate the value of the new technologies and train the end users in their adoption and use. We're with them every step of the way, from the lab to the field.


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